April 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

HIR’s Blood Drive Promotes ‘Save 1-Feed 1’ Campaign

A blood drive to be held by the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR) on Sunday, March 20, will be an opportunity for donors to perform a double mitzvah—responding to a chronic shortage of blood and an increased need for food bank services as the COVID-19 contagion lingers in the metropolitan area.

The HIR drive, set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the synagogue, located at 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway in the Bronx, is participating in a “Save 1-Feed 1” campaign in which the New York Blood Center (NYBC) will contribute $1 to a local state-funded food bank for every blood donation made this month. That $1 alone will help provide up to five meals for a family in need, according to NYBC.

HIR, which is also known as The Bayit (Hebrew for “home”), is dedicating the March 20 drive to those in the community who have struggled with and lost their lives to the pandemic and other diseases. Additionally, it will be honoring the memory of two Riverdale members of the synagogue, Rebecca Rosenstein, z”l, and Ron Schechter, z”l, whose careers in medicine made important contributions to society.

“Both Rebecca Rosenstein and Ron Schechter were humble, quiet leaders near and dear to me personally and to our Bayit community,” remarked HIR’s Senior Rabbi Steven Exler. “Family and Torah values were very important to both of them, and their commitment and work ethics in their professional lives of service impacted positively upon the lives of so many others.” He added, “Our Bayit blood drives are all about stepping up to do what you can to save a life by simply giving blood. We follow the example of Rebecca and Ron’s lives, two amazing souls who teach us what it means to put human life front and center.”

Seryl Ritter, coordinator of HIR’s blood drive, expressed “our gratitude for the support of our public officials and partners: the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership; the office of the New York City public advocate, Jumaane Williams; New York City Councilman Eric Dinowitz; and New York State Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz.”

The nonprofit Blood Center will be providing the specially trained technicians and all equipment to draw blood. In addition to being able to donate blood through the traditional method, donors who meet specific minimum height and weight requirements will have the option of giving two complete transfusion units of red blood cells at one time, through utilization of the ALYX System.

Donors are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment in advance by either calling NYBC at 1-800-933-BLOOD (2566), registering online at www.thebayit.org/blooddrive or scanning the QR code displayed with this article and entering sponsor code #297804. Walk-ins are also welcome, but priority will be given to those who pre-register.

Eligible donors must be between the ages of 17 and 75 and will be required to present a photo ID card; those who have blood donor cards should bring them as well. All will be required to wear masks covering the mouth and nose upon arrival at the blood drive site in the Social Hall of the HIR building.

Seryl also stressed that anyone recovering from COVID-19 must be at least 14 days symptom-free before donating blood. Those who are experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms are not eligible to donate blood, she added. For further information on the blood drive, Seryl can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-549-8152.

Rebecca Rosenstein, who died last July after a nine-year battle with cancer, led an international team conducting clinical trials of new drugs in her 20-year career at Pfizer Inc. She played key roles in the development of medicines, particularly for the treatment of breast cancer and lung cancer, which helped people live longer and healthier lives. Rebecca was remembered by her husband, Barry Rosenstein, and two daughters, Simmie and Dina, as a “loving wife, parent and grandparent.”

For longtime friends Carole and Sy Oshinsky, “There were so many things to love about Rebecca, her infectious laughter and love of music, her hospitality, kindness and interest in others—and especially her positive attitude toward fighting her illnesses. Through her daily blog posts she revealed not only her perseverance in sharing her challenges but her devotion to her family as she chronicled joyous milestones (especially those of her six grandchildren) in text and pictures.” And to another Riverdale couple, Ellen Greenblatt and Barry Greif, she was the friend whose “graciousness, intelligence and humor came through” the first time they met.

Ron Schechter, who died in 2018, was described by his wife of 41 years, Jane Flechner, as “a people person with a religious soul. His values were Hashem and helping people.” As an ophthalmologist whose career extended over a period of four decades, he took special pride, said Jane, in the pediatric side of his practice, particularly treating children afflicted with strabismus, a disorder better known as “crossed eyes.” And while he maintained offices in three boroughs, “he always made himself available at HIR and at home to anyone who sought his advice on an eye issue,” she adds. A frequent volunteer at HIR blood drives, Ron was “very committed to the Jewish community, davening and being in shul.”

Ron’s daughter, Sharon Rafe Sasson, remembers her father as a man with “a kind and gentle soul who always had a warm, welcoming smile on his face.” Known as “Zaydie” to his four grandchildren, she said he provided strong support for his family. And echoing Jane’s and Rabbi Exler’s thoughts, she added, “He deeply valued the relationships” he formed in Riverdale with friends, the rabbis and members of HIR.

By Sy Oshinsky

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